Handing over to my brother Adrian for a bit of Dad perspective and wit today…
It’s 5am on a brisk May morning in South London. A cheeky fox is asleep in our garden as the sun rises. Our 2 year old thumps the window and awakes him from his slumber; he’s full of beans after minimal sleep and maximal frenzy whipping by Daddy the night before. We’re going on holiday, to a family villa in Portugal!
As with most 2 year olds, anything involving transport is a major event. Aside from seeing a tractor haul a space shuttle, I think visiting an airport comes a close second in the transport excitement stakes. B pushes his Trunki at breakneck speeds out of the flat. “Need to get to airport fast Daddy’. Who am I to complain? I’m quite partial to an airport myself.
An added benefit of getting such an early flight was arriving just in time for lunch. B had a sleep in the car from the airport and awoke slightly confused as we prised him out of the car and put on his sun-hat and flip-flops. Next stop, a beach-side restaurant.
B was all too happy to indulge, which was a welcome surprise as he can be fussy at best. A plate of olives soon brought him round; “More O-bi-lives mummy”. An ice cold Sagres for Daddy and an equally cold apple juice for B. I think he was convinced by this holiday business. The wife and I then tackled a huge Caldeirada fish stew which was thoroughly enjoyable. Suppose we’d better find this fancy villa of ours…
Exploring the Villa
After a leisurely lunch at the beach we made our way to pick up our keys to the villa. I’m not sure who was most excited when the gates opened, B or me. The place was huge! B and I both made a lap of honour around the villa taking in the shimmering swimming pool, huge garden and children’s room packed full of toys.
B made a beeline to the nearest box of toys and became very attached to a Lego dumper truck. A holiday romance of sorts. I lost count the amount of times I had to rebuild the truck; however it was a small price to pay for the amount of entertainment it provided and I’ve always got a soft spot for Lego. Fortunately he didn’t want to take it the beach.
Our family villa in Portugal was perfectly placed for exploring the local beaches. Previous guests had written their recommendations in the guide book and scored our local beach an impressive 5 stars. Armed with this advice and luxurious expectations we set off to Praia do Carvalho. B absolutely loved it.
The dusty steps on the journey down arched their way through the cliffs and into a hidden cave that led to the beach. Much like the pirate stories he favours at the moment. The scene was complete by a pirate ship sailing past, giving us our very own ‘Dead Man’s Cove’ to play in. Did I see Captain Morgan?
Parents’ night out
Well, we’re on holiday too aren’t we?
Taking advantage of having B’s Nanna with us on holiday, the wife and I enjoyed a night on our own. We took a walk around the beaches and rocky coves that we’d trod earlier with B, taking in the bars we’d duly noted! I’d thoroughly recommend O Pescador Benagil; a fantastic seafood restaurant perched atop a cliff overlooking the beach above. The food was great, the cocktails even better and with the added bonus of spending some time with my wife, without the distraction of toddler culinary demands or Lego.
B turned 3 while we were on holiday. We bought a few small presents with us so he’d have something to open on his birthday. His main present was waiting at home and wouldn’t fit in a suitcase! Presents aside, no birthday would be complete without cake. We found a local baker via the supermarket, who supplied the most humongous chocolate cake I or anyone had seen. Far too much for the 4 of us, we were still eating this for breakfast the next day.
This summer’s must have accessory is surely an outdoor kitchen. I want one. Maybe not in the UK though. There’s nothing that feels more holiday than being able to eat outside, no matter what time of day it is. B agreed with me on this and loved nothing more than having breakfast by the pool or helping Daddy with the BBQ. He’s a huge fan of ‘babs now. Marinated the day before and then grilled in the evening, they’re still a firm favourite on the family menu.
He appreciated the shopping less. Supermarket meltdowns happen no matter the country. Luckily there was a friendly security guard on duty who was quick to remind B that the trolls in Portugal are no less lenient than trolls back home. He moved pretty quickly after that.
Relaxing in the villa
Sometimes B would be happier sat in his pants watching a cartoon rather than exploring the garden, splashing around in the pool or going for an adventure on the beach. As would I. Although lacking in sartorial elegance, one of life’s great pleasures is pant wearing TV viewing.
However, there’s nothing more of pant party pooper than back-to-back Peppa Pig in German. The satellite TV in the villa was tuned exclusively to German channels. Sprechen sie deutsch B? Nein danke Daddy. Maybe you were right about playing in the garden. B’s German skills haven’t improved much either!
Trip to the castle
Keen to venture inland and see what the local hills had to offer, we set off on a mini road trip. Our first port of call was the Castle of Silves, a Moorish fortification overlooking the town of Silves first established in the 8th Century. History aside, B likened it more to his Lego and enjoyed running around the castle walls, making faces through the arrow holes and shouting at Mummy down below. We cooled down with a freshly squeezed orange juice in the courtyard, before hitting the road to Monchique for lunch.
As much as I enjoy a holiday, there’s nothing like being at home! Sadistic as it may be, I don’t mind the icy chill as you step off the plane. It was a pleasant surprise then, that we’d brought the weather with us, just in time for B’s proper 3rd birthday party. Friends and family united, chased each other round the garden and ate cake. There was a BBQ to boot.
Just like holiday really.